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Of the Attempts of learned Divines of the Church of England to disprove the Necessity of Preparation for the Sacrament; or, to render it slight and superficial.
I He detractors from the dignity of the Eucharist proceed, consistently with their general design, to deny the necessity, and to doubt even the expediency of preparation. According to their notions of a worthy reception, it consists in a decent deportment during the time of the solemnity* Bishop Iloadly says, "Examination is not a duty necessary previous to the Lord's Supper; and the whole affair (such are his words) of eating and drinking unworthily, is confined to the frame of our minds and our behaviour
At the very time of our performance of this religious duty."
Bishop Pearce denies that St. Paul's exhortation, " Let a man examine himself, "and so let him eat of the bread and "drink of the cup," seems to relate to Any Examination of what sins they had been formerly guilty of, "If," continues he, " to eat and drink unworthily be to do itintemperately and without reverence, the phrase "Let a man examine himself," must signify to do it reverently." He asserts that the Greek word* does not signify let him examine, but let him distinguish himself from a guest at a common meal: and this difference consists in receiving the Sacrament with reverence; with a consideration of the end of the institution, namely, a remembrance of Christ's death, and love and affection for our brethren. I must here remark, that Bishop Taylor, a much greater man, says, "That the Greek word here translated examine, signifies the strictest sort of trial or exa
* AoxfjtaftTa Ectvloy.
mination, such as that by which gold is tried by the fire."
Dr. Balguy says: "The necessity of the self-examination may first, perhaps, have been suggested by a mistaken interpretation of a passage in one of St. Paul's Epistles; and ought not to be dissembled, that there is no passage in Scripture, which expressly requires it of us as a condition of receiving the Sacrament." Dr. Balguy however allows the propriety of it; but why should men exert their ingenuity in disproving the necessity of a conduct which they allow to be proper. The necessity appears from St. Paul's words in our translation, which scholars of great ability think the right one.
Dr. Bell does not desert the cause which he had undertaken in his " Practical Inquiry," when he comes to instruct the unlearned Christian concerning preparation. He teaches, that habitual good intentions, joined to the serious employment of our thoughts at the time, in the business we are about, will, in every hir stance, render our attendance upon the celebration of the Lord's Supper, as well as
the the performance of every other act of religious worship, an acceptable service without setting apart any precise period of time to prepare ourselves for it. As to any precise tirrte for preparation, I know of nobody who ever said, that the limitation to a particular length of time was necessary. But duties for which no particular time is set apart, are apt to be performed at no time: and where is the necessity or propriety of contending against a precise time for preparation; if any welldisposed Christian think the appointment of a precise time conducive to this pious purpose? All these attempts to prevent either the preparation in general, or the fixing of a precise time for it in particular, contribute to make men consider the Sacrament as an insignificant rite, which may be performed without advantage, or neglected without any evil consequence.
A Bishop of Winchester, with his Archdeacon, and Prebendary; and a Bishop of Rochester, with a Prebendary of Westminster, contending against the necessity of preparation for the Sacrament, are sufficient to confound, if not to convince the
unlearned reader •. What the late worthy Bishop of St. Asaph, Dr. Bag or, says to the Prebendary of Westminster, Dr. Bell, in an excellent remonstrance upon the subject, might have been addressed to" them All with propriety ♦.
"Your estimationin the world," says he, "will of course give a certain degree of credit to every thing you publish. The generality of readers will be little disposed to suspect either your intentions, or your prudence. It becomes, on this account, the more. necessary, that whatever proceeds from your pen should be scrupulously examined. The established worship of this country has a claim to some deference and respect from her own sons at least; from those especially who are engaged in her service by the solemn professions, who
* Benjamin Hoadly Bishop of Winchester, Thomas Balguy, D. D. Archdeacon and Prebendary of Winchester, Zachary Pcarce, Bishop of Rochester, and William Bell, D. D. Prebendary of St. Peter's, Westminster.
t See a Letter to Dr. Bell on the subject of his late publication on the authority, nature, and design of the Lord's Supper, by Lewis Bagot, D. D.